As is the case with top level sailing events around the world, the 52 Super Series has been hit by the global Covid-19 pandemic. But while the wider 52 Super Series family of sailors, organisers and supporters have put health and safety first and largely stayed ashore, the fundamental philosophy of caring for the environment remains as important as ever.
Kicking off the 52 Super Series Sustainability Week on Wednesday, 16th September, local 52 Super Series staff will clean a beach in El Saler, outside Valencia city, together with an NGO called Xaloc. Xaloc’s mission is to protect sea turtle nests in the region and to promote ocean conservation to local sea users.
Clean-up volunteer, 52 Super Series sustainability ambassador and Project Manager to Alegre, Phillip Smith explains:
“It’s a great initiative, and nice to see the 52 Super Series taking action outside of the events. As soon as I heard we were helping baby turtles, they had my signature! Our plan is to clean the beach where the turtle nest is located, and the adjacent beach, so that when the turtles leave their shells, their path into the ocean will be clean, and devoid of plastics and litter. After the clean-ups, we’ll then remove an invasive plant species from that area.”
Then on Thursday, 17th September, Valencia Mar, a fairly new marina in the port of Valencia, has invited the 52 Super Series to hold a #ProtectOurPlayground workshop to facilitate discussion around sustainability and how to integrate best practices into their everyday operations. The workshop at the marina will be run in an outdoor space, where there is enough space to comply with social distancing. Following the workshop, all involved will roll up their sleeves for a marina clean-up.
“With this workshop we aim to awaken a new level of responsibility for the entire local marine ecosystem, which is always under pressure around the beaches and marinas of Valencia. We want to help engage with and inform personnel within the marina and its associated businesses, showing how to mitigate positive changes in behaviours and choices such as we have seen with the very positive legacy the 52 Super Series has left at so many venues over the years,” says Christoph Kröger the Sustainability Officer of the 52 Super Series.
On Friday, 18th September, there will be a welcome opportunity to “get the band back together” as the 52 Super Series Sustainability Ambassadors – at least one from each team – will meet up on a Zoom call. Points of discussion are the team’s CO2 offset at the end of the season and how to report the required tracking data. Another topic will be the utilisation of flow meters on the water hoses at the dock, to track the water consumption during boat cleaning. It will also be a great opportunity to simply catch up and compare local initiatives and discuss advances for 2021 and beyond.
And finally, on Saturday, 19th September, as part of #WorldCleanupDay2020, the 52 Super Series will join forces with BIOagradables, a local NGO, to clean up the main beach in Valencia. Their mission is to raise awareness about ocean pollution and single-use plastics.
Reflecting on the initiative, Chief Sustainability Officer, Lars Böcking comments:
“Sailing may be largely stopped for the moment, but the wider issues of sustainability and ecological responsibility never, ever stop. The 52 Super Series Sustainability Week is our way of reminding the wider sailing community that we need to keep pushing, making better choices every day.”
Managing Director of 11th Hour Racing, Todd McGuire, adds:
“The 52 Super Series Sustainability Week is a wonderful example of how inspiration can lead to positive action. While most of the sailing season was canceled, the 52 Super Series has taken the initiative to continue its sustainability efforts. With so many events currently postponed, now is a great time for sailing organisations to create or update their sustainability plans to protect our playground.”